I am profoundly sad. I am extraordinarily proud. I am, somehow, grateful. I am angry beyond words. And I am always optimistic.
When the news of the carnage hit late last Sunday night and we knew without knowing that there would be a body count beyond our ability to comprehend, a sadness started to descend on our city. By the end of Monday when the number of deaths and the totality of the injured was better known, it was clear that Oct. 1, 2017, would be an indelible day of infamy for Las Vegas — not as a culprit but as a victim.
Each day since, the news about the individuals who were lost and hurt made the sorrow grow deeper. The young and promising lives of so many people who just wanted to enjoy a concert on a beautiful Las Vegas evening were cut short, brutally, without warning and with a terror that should be unimaginable in a civilized society. That sadness grows daily as the victims are identified and their stories, their relationships and the people with whom they were close make the loss so personal. So much so that no one in Las Vegas can escape a one degree of separation from that horrific reality.
Messages from friends around the world have been pouring in — as they have been to most Las Vegans — with two over-arching themes. First and foremost, the profound heartache about what happened to so many innocent victims and their families. But also and enormous and heartfelt sense of gratitude for Metro Police, the fire departments, health care and paramedic professionals and all the first responders whose first instinct was to run toward danger while so many others were running away from it.
Countless lives were saved by the actions of those first responders and so many other human beings who acted in extraordinary ways at the scene by giving aid and comfort to strangers in need with little regard for their own safety.
Couple those lifesaving responses with the outpouring of love and prayers and much-needed blood, and the reality of a community stepping up in every conceivable way to help did not go unnoticed around the world.
My father used to tell us that he fought so hard to make Las Vegas a decent community so that his kids could be proud of the place where they grew up. “I never want you to be ashamed to tell people where you were born,” he used to tell me.
He was successful. I could never be more proud of the city where I was born and where 2,000,000 people call home than I am today.
Grateful is a relative term when discussing this most malicious and inhumane act that took so many lives and scarred so many more. But, knowing that this massacre could have been so much worse — an unchecked shooter, armed to the teeth with a clear field of vision and weapons capable of killing many hundreds of people — should make us all thankful for Metro and Mandalay Bay’s officers for their decisive and brave actions.
And I am personally grateful that family members of mine managed to get to safety when the shooting started. I realize so many there weren’t as fortunate, but in times like this we must be grateful for the small victories.
I cannot put into words the depth of my anger. Of course, it is directed at the crazy maniac who caused the carnage. But also toward anyone who saw this coming or aided and abetted his sick and depraved plan.
But there is plenty more anger that exists toward those in public office, high and low, who immediately after hearing the news of the murders, told Americans that we should not politicize the events by talking about bringing sanity to the gun issue in America.
They tried to inoculate all of those we have elected to protect us from such wanton carnage from any criticism for failing us miserably. Not just in Las Vegas but in Orlando, Colorado, San Bernardino and, especially, in Sandy Hook, where babies were murdered in their classrooms. Every day there are reports of mass shootings all over this country. And every day the politicians do absolutely nothing!
How much more do parents have to endure the news no parent ever wants to hear? How much longer do Americans, who live in the greatest country on Earth, have to live — and die — because we cannot put common sense above the irrational ideology and profit motives of the gun industry and its muddle-headed minions?
I know Gov. Brian Sandoval — after the murders — asked the attorney general to look into instituting the simple, commonsense background checks that Nevadans voted for almost a year ago. Where was he this entire time when Attorney General Adam Laxalt refused to do what the voters directed him to do — enforce our will when it comes to background checks? Whose will was Laxalt enforcing by saying no to the voters — many of whom have been directly affected by the murders last week?
Yes, I am mad. The question should be, “Who isn’t mad?”
Las Vegas, as it has always done, will learn from this tragedy and we will get better. We will also heal, by caring for those who have lost and ensuring those who look to our city for all that we offer a better and safer experience. I know that is optimistic, but I have never known this city to be anything less or to act in any way other than with a hopeful eye toward the future.
As we start a new week — the first one in a new life forever changed by Oct. 1 — I realize we are just beginning to rebuild that which was destroyed, mostly our sense of safety and security and that of our guests. But we will get there, and sooner than most people expect.
We are sad. We are proud. We are grateful. And, yes, we are angry. And, yet, we remain hopeful.
We are Las Vegas.
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.